An engaging fantasy with creative worldbuilding and authentically conflicted teen characters caught in a magical power...

READ REVIEW

THE VIRUS OF BEAUTY

Witches are falling victim to a magic-killing virus, and their only hope for a cure is to convince a teenager to accept his wizard heritage.

In this debut YA fantasy, 15-year-old soccer star Wilf Gilvary, living in present-day Hong Kong, wants nothing to do with magic despite his stern wizard father’s efforts to make his son use his gifts. After his father’s sudden death, Wilf still refuses to explore his powers when his 20-year-old stepsister, Myra, insists that they leave the normal world for new lives in the Magical Realm. A visit from a repulsively ugly and desperate witch forces Wilf to reluctantly accept that he is indeed a wizard. She informs him that the cure for the Pulch Virus, an illness that drains witches of their magic (and makes them distressingly beautiful as the disease progresses), resides only in his father’s journal, a work Wilf inherited. Unfortunately, he will be unable to read the formula for the cure unless he learns how to harness his abilities. Wilf ends up in the Magical Realm after all. There, his stake in events increases as he grows close to Katryna, a young witch infected with the virus, and as the journal and Wilf’s potential for performing potent magic place him in the sights of an unscrupulous wizard. In this promising series opener, Lyall skillfully deepens her world of wizards and witches with gender war elements. A magic Veil separates the domain of each group: Witches in wizard territory wear bracelets restricting their autonomy; unauthorized wizards in the witches’ realm face death. The characters’ believable motivations in this fast-moving tale range from self-interest, guilt, and fear to a desire for power and vengeance. Wilf deals with complicated and intriguing family relationships—Is Myra who he thinks she is? What painful secret from his past has blocked him from his magical potential? Other tantalizing questions include: Who is fomenting conflict between the Wizard Council and the Witch Council? What is the origin of the virus? What will happen to the balance of magic if the cure can’t be accessed?  

An engaging fantasy with creative worldbuilding and authentically conflicted teen characters caught in a magical power struggle.

Pub Date: July 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73600-270-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Hazel Publishing Company, LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?

more